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Reviews for Rob Roy Canoe by Bell Canoe Works


Rated: 9.29/10 Based On: 17 Reviews

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03-14-2014
Submitted by: EntropySend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     We've two Rob Roy (Bell), a 15 and 12, each kevlar. Early-on we canoe tripped Boundary Waters. Now inland lakes and Harbor Springs on Lake Michigan are favorites. A folding cart run to 'our' small sandy beach is ideal. In calf-deep water I sit right down in the large seat while facing shore off starboard side, then swing my legs around. No boat straddle. Exit is the reverse. Deck swell and cockpit-comb combine to keep water out during this exit.

We immediately retro fit a large factory plastic padded seat to the 12 (15 came with one). Lots of back support takes tension out and puts extra drive into double blade paddling from the seated position.

These craft build confidence and do good work over a broad spectrum of water conditions (well outside of rolling). We enjoy paddling in good conditions, often early morning or late afternoon. These kayaks travel well on our little trailex, each in a protective extra-wide kayak covers.

We have never regretted our choice of these kayaks for ready to go kayaking in lots of settings. These are go-to boats. We also own Klepper double, Wenonah Sea Otter, and Hornbeck 10. All are great boats for different purposes.

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09-25-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     It's hard to believe that I've had this canoe for six years. It just came back from the Boundary Waters where it performed admirably. If you plan carefully it will hold a ton of gear and still paddle well. I was really glad for the deck and the low center of gravity on the last day when the wind and waves really kicked up. Paddling it in this kind of setting requires either tall boots or a commitment to wet feet as some portage landings are just plain awkward. No fault of the boat.
Still a winner after all these years!

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04-18-2013
Submitted by: SpeckledSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I reviewed this boat in 2005 (see below: Sept. 1, 2005). I still love it. It's not a kayak, it's not a canoe, don't expect it to be. I use it for tripping, duck hinting, fishing, paddling lake superior and even paddled it in the rec class of a few kayak races...and placed. Incredibly versatile boat.
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05-14-2012
Submitted by: TerrySend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Compared to my Capella and Epic 16: The 15 ft. length and 43 lbs. makes it easier to to lift and carry, turn around and drop in the water off a dock. The larger cockpit allows me to easily enter it from a dock and exit standing up at a beach. No hatches to deal with, easy to slide a set of wheels in the back. I don't think it handles at all like a kayak. I miss edging and kayak like handling but it is much more useful for bird photography because it is very stable, has lots of room and is easy to get out of. Also, when not moving I can rotate it easily because of flat bottom. Wind pushes it around more when sitting still because no V-bottom. Tracks straight in wind with a needed correction stroke. Speed is just a hair slower than the Capella but not much. I call it my Canoe-ack.

This is a wonderful boat if you're into nature, camping, taking stuff with you, exploring, convenience, accessibility, you get the picture. You might compare it to the old Chevy El Camino a car like pick-up truck. They are just so darn handy that they are kept and cherished for years and years. Wood trim is a nice touch.

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06-24-2010
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     have owned this boat for about 10 yrs, easy to paddle, very stable, turns easy for me, beautiful boat.
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03-30-2010
Submitted by: Steve BakerSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     A couple of years on and it's still a winner! I replaced the original seat pad/backband with the newer one-piece unit for a vast improvement in comfort.

The canoe is a bit small for tripping but Ostrum's 2-piece solo pack system will fit fine under the decks and a Duluth "Rambler" fits perfectly behind the seat. It can be done, and the low, decked profile lets you slip under the wind on big lakes and rivers. I sometimes miss using my single paddles but with a good double we really fly. A keeper!

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07-12-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Don't worry. It's a great canoe. paddle it however you want - single, double, triple .... great design, great construction. I've put over 6K miles on mine, so far.

I installed a sliding Wenonah bucket seat and use a bent-shaft zav. done many big water miles in coastal everglades -- tripping with 100 pounds of gear and water with breaking waves, 25-knot winds and nasty tides, at least for this region. I've yet to upset it unintentionally - only happened during practice sessions, and when manatees get ticked and kick my Rob Roy. It's a bad ass boat; sleek, although a bit small, fast and classy.

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07-11-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     I am surprised with all the 9 and 10 ratings for the Bell Rob Roy which is completely different from my experience. I bought a new fiberglass Bell Rob Roy about 10 years ago and become very unhappy with both the Rob Roy and the manufacturer.
I've owned about 15 kayaks, several high performance canoes, and many years ago a Bart Hauthaway Rob Roy (Sugar Island). I paddled the Hauthaway Rob Roy for about 10 years, was familiar with its limitations/strong points and thought the Bell Roy would be a higher performance version of my earlier Rob Roy (and I was seduced by the Bell's wood trim).
After a short test paddle I bought a new Bell Rob Roy and discovered that the Bell Rob Roy is very much a compromise, being neither a good canoe nor a good kayak. It is too wide to lean or brace with your knees to control like a kayak and with too low seating for a good canoe paddle stroke. I called Bell about adding a kneeling thwart to paddle canoe style as their website site suggested and they recommended this option. After buying and installing the overpriced kneeling thwart, I found that it was too low to comfortably lean on and could cause entrapment if you dumped the Rob Roy, so the kneeling thwart was worthless. The original backband was very poorly designed so I upgraded to a better backband design. The Rob Roy was very stable for fishing and had a lot of accessible room for tackle, but not much fun to paddle as a kayak, if you are experienced and used to better designed kayaks.
The final straw was that the seam connecting the top and bottom of the Rob Roy was covered by cheap vinyl tape that came off in the first month when I bumped a dock piling in landing. It exposed a rough ugly gap between the top and bottom halves of the hull with raw fiberglass tape in between. All of my other composite kayaks, including the 30 year old Hathaway Rob Roy had either a fiberglass outerseam or durable plastic H seal connecting the top and bottom so I could not believe that a quality manufacturer would overlook this design flaw. I called Bell, including the president to complain and they said they had fixed this design flaw in the current years design but would only send me another roll of vinyl tape.
Unhappy with both the Rob Roy and the manufacturer, I traded in the 6 month old Rob Roy on consignment. So much for Bell quality. I recently ran into the person who later bought my original Bell and he had similar impressions about the Bell Rob Roy.

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07-09-2007
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Wow! This thing is fast!
I just got my new Rob Roy (Kev-Lite) in the water and it's pretty amazing. It's comfy, stable, and maneuverable. Did I mention that it's fast?
Two day trips don't a relationship make, but I'm really pumped on this one. More later.
The Magic is in jeopardy!

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07-31-2006
Submitted by: Paul CreagerSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I just returned from a trip to the BWCA with a Bell Rob Roy kayak/canoe and was very impressed. I've been having adventures in the BW for the last 25 years, and I've always wished there was a way to paddle solo, still be able to portage comfortably, and also maximize my paddling efforts. The Rob Roy really fit the bill for me. On a 200 rod portage I was able to adjust the yoke so that I didn't even need to use my hands while walking. That allowed me to pick raspberries while walking. Also, while cross Brule Lake in high winds, the Rob Roy kept tracking and didn't get blown off course by the wind. I was able to dedicate my energy to paddling forward, rather than continually correcting like a canoe. I was concerned that the Rob Roy might be too tippy. Not a chance. Very easy to exit/enter. My suggestion would be to make more comfortable rope handles. Other than that, now I'm planning on buying one.
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09-01-2005
Submitted by: SpeckledSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I recently purchased a FibarLar Rob Roy and have since taken it on a trip to the BW. I absolutely love the boat. It handles rough water like a dream, is unbelievable stable. The boat is very fast as well. It tracks well and has just enough room for my gear for a BW trip.
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04-25-2005
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     This is another superb Dave Yost design for folks looking for a relatively affordable decked canoe for day paddling and trips lasting up to several days. It handles wind and waves from all directions comfortably and has a nice blend of primary and secondary stability. Gear storage spaces won't work too well for those who want to bring everything but the kitchen sink, but if you stick to a reasonable amount of gear, will be adequate. The hull is pretty efficient and can keep up with the longer decked canoes when the group is paddling at a steady cruising pace.

There were a few things that I would change on my personal boat, but that is to be expected on a boat that costs a thousand dollars less than any other decked canoe. First to go would be the seat. It is uncomfortable and much too low for someone using a canoe paddle, and the boat's stability is good enough to accommodate the higher seat height. I padded it up to 4" high and felt that I could get a much stronger canoe paddle stroke there. The rear thwart was too far forward, which meant that the boat was always trimmed just a little bit nose heavy with this 220 lb. paddler. I didn't see the benefit of the wood trim on the cockpit, and it ended rather abruptly on the sides instead of going all the way around. I would think that it would be easier to use a composite coaming. A rudder would be a nice option or owner add-on. I would probably want a spray cover for peace of mind if I were going to be paddling the boat loaded in wind and waves.

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03-16-2005
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I've had the kevlar model for several years and love it. It has been across the BWCA and down the entire St. Croix River. I have made skirts for it. I do single portages without unpacking. I have tent covers for it and sleep on the water at night. This year I'm using it as a sled for cross country skiing and sleep in it on the snow. Works great. Where the St Croix has frozen over spots, I can go faster on ice than in the water. Only problem is that none of my friends have one.
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10-31-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     I've reviewed several canoes in the last couple of years, each time I do, I'm more informed than the time before. Last spring I bought a wenonah prism, I used it several times, it's fast, really pretty, very tippy [inexperience?] and gets blown all over in the wind. I've watched tandems paddle by, as I was grounded. I recently bought a rob roy from bell,it's very fast, even cooler looking,and is almost unaffected by the wind.the rob roy is my canoe of choice now, it does not carry as much gear[easier portages]and I have'nt quite figured out the entry, and exit routine yet,but I will. I did have some problems with the canoe, but the factory rep[mark] and northwest canoes, it was taken care of to my satisfaction. There are some definite negatives to this canoe,but are far outweighed by the pluses. I can now go to the bwca,and not worry about the wind or weather,two days ago, I was bustin ice with this canoe, something I never would have considered before.
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08-14-2001
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I've had the boat now for over three months. I absolutely love it. It handles three and four foot rollers with relative ease. I paddle it often in the gulf of mexico and even surft with it. I would recommend an upgraded backband though. I installed bombergear's newest and it works great. I also added perimeter lines from bow to stern via the rope handles. I plan to add float bags and buy a sprayskirt. I also plan to paddle the boat from tampa to key large next spring. 250 miles in 8 days. I now have a 46-inch carbon zaveral canoe paddle. it works well. the boat is very fast for a canoe and seems extremely seaworthy. I still give it a 9 because the king of decked canoes still makes a better boat. that being verlen kruger.
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08-13-2001
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Mine is an older gel-coated Kevlar model that I bought used. It weighs an honest 37 lbs. The boat is extremely fast when paddled with a double bladed paddle and can keep up with most other boats out there. You can also paddle it with a single bladed paddle, but I'd recommend a shorther shaft due to the low seating position.

Initial stability is good, but beginners might find it 'tippy', a characteristic common in Bell boats. Secondary stability however is excellent. The guy I bought it from said I'd probably fall out before tipping it over and I think he's right. Leaning the boat helps in turning. The open cockpit allows you to move your legs around somewhat and reduces fatigue, at least for me.

For big river or Boundary Water type trips I think the Rob Roy is hard to beat. Carefully packed with lightweight gear you could do a week long trip in it. An ideal load would be 300 lbs, but Bell claims you can carry 550, although I don't know where you'd put everything. I wouldn't recommend it for twisty or rocky rivers or in whitewater as it doesn't turn quickly and punches through waves rather than riding over them. I'd also recommend a spray skirt in choppy water. All in all I love the boat. As Bell advertises it lends a kayak's speed to a canoe's ability to carry a load.

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02-12-2001
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I paddled a fiberlar Rob Roy on Hillsborough River in Tampa on a calm day with 5 knot winds out of the east and a slight current. I used a 48 inch canoe paddle. I thought the boat was extremely fast for a canoe and the construction seemed top-notch. It is a beautiful boat. I plan on buying one. Very stable, and the secondary stability was pretty incredible. Turning was somewhat of a chore, but the boat is designed for speed. The waterline has to be more than 14 feet, which is about the same as many 16'+ kayaks. Very spacious and comfortable. Light and easy to handle. A bargain at $1200. The deck is similar to the fable Rob Roy but the hull is a shorter version of a Magic, Bell's popular solo tripper. Foot pegs seemed fine and the wood work was nice. Nice rope handles on the bow and stern. I would have given it a 10 but I think there may be some better decked canoes out there. Those canoes also come at a vastly increased price.
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